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Several years ago I did some research into social media scheduling tools, so I could schedule social media posts for my Facebook page, Twitter and Google+ profile. At the time, the two main contenders were Hootsuite and Buffer.

I settled on Hootsuite. The free account allowed 3 social profiles, which I had, and allowed me to schedule up to 30 messages in advance (ie 10 at a time across the 3 platforms). It worked pretty well, but the mobile app was awful and the posts that came out of it looked a bit odd, so I took to saving articles I found on my phone so I could schedule them from the desktop Hootsuite later on.

About 18 months ago I had another look around and switched over to Buffer. Buffer's Android app was much better and let me post immediately, and also schedule like Hootsuite, but I could also set up a posting schedule. I set it up for 1 post per day, at 1pm Monday to Friday. This meant any post I chose to "Buffer", would automatically appear at 1pm on the next business day. (You can create your own schedule to suit your needs). More recently, Buffer also added the option to customise a post for each platform, which is good if you want to tag somebody in the post and they use different usernames on different platforms, or if you want to use more or less hashtags on each platform. These additional features meant Buffer was more flexible than Hootsuite, so I've primarily used that for the last 18 months.

A couple of weeks ago I received a somewhat ridiculous "marketing speak" email from Buffer, announcing this:

On March 1, we’ll be retiring the Buffer Individual plan and replacing it with a new Free plan, streamlined to help you do social media more efficiently.

Which on closer inspection meant, they were removing a bunch of features including:

  • Scheduling
  • The "Re-Buffer" option, which allowed you to go in and, well, re-post previous posts
  • Basic Analytics (which I never used)
  • The "you can configure one of each of these 5 accounts" feature (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+) - now it's "pick a combination of 3". Granted, you can now have 3 Twitter accounts if you want to, so I suppose for certain use cases that might work. But not mine.

I replied to Buffer's "marketing speak" and pointed out that removing all the features that differentiated them from Hootsuite and trying to make that all cheery and positive when in fact they were just removing features, was insulting to anybody with a brain. To their credit they did reply and ask for further feedback, which I provided. I then received a reply (and I paraphrase here): "Thanks for sharing - bad luck!", at which point I gave up.

So, what are the options now? Well, I've just resurrected my Hootsuite account, and set up the same 3 accounts as on Buffer. It's actually pretty good because you can set up different feeds for each platform, so it looks a bit like Tweetdeck but for other platforms too.

In theory, I can use Buffer for the "general" 1pm weekday posts. And Hootsuite to schedule posts that I want to appear at a specific time, or immediately. I've just downloaded the Hootsuite Android app again so we'll see if that's been improved...

Did you know that 64% (almost 2/3rds) of consumers will be more likely to trust a brand if they interact with consumers in a positive way on social media? So it's important to get it right.

Need help with your social media? If you're interested in setting up Hootsuite or Buffer and need some assistance, feel free to get in touch.

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Nicky Veitch
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